Shinola 'Built in Detroit' Slogan Could Be Iffy in Eyes of Federal Trade Commission

December 02, 2015, 1:10 AM

Shinola boasts that its pricey watches are "Built in Detroit," capitalizing on the city's gritty, suddenly hip reputation.

But the Federal Trade Commission may have concerns about that claim, JC Reindl of the Detroit Free Press suggests in a report, noting that the timepieces assembled in Detroit are made up of parts from Switzerland and China:

Luxury-goods maker Shinola says it will keep its "Built in Detroit" slogan despite a recent opinion from a federal agency that such claims can wrongly suggest nearly all of a watch's parts are from the U.S., even if critical parts are made overseas.

Shinola, a maker of watches, bikes and leather goods, told the Free Press it is aware of the legal guidance from the Federal Trade Commission in a case involving a Kansas City watchmaker, but the Detroit-based company believes its slogans accurately reflect how Shinola makes its watches.

"We believe that 'Built in Detroit' accurately reflects what we are doing here and believe wholeheartedly that anybody who would come to our factory and witness our process, would think so too," said a written statement released by the company. "Shinola’s mission has been, and will continue to be a job creation vehicle as opposed to a company whose mission is about the technical fine points that are necessary in describing our products as 'Made in America.'"

The FTC polices the use of "Made in USA," and a spokeswoman says "Built in Detroit" could be the same as a "Made in USA" claim. The regulatory agency wouldn't comment on Shinola's business.

FTC investigators looked into Niall Luxury Goods, a Kansas City firm, over concerns it was overstating the extent to which its watches were made in the U.S. The watches' movements are made in Switzerland. The inquiry ended after the company altered its "USA Made" claim to include the phrase "with Swiss movements," the Freep says. 

Related article today:

Bikes Battle: Shinola Is Misleading People, a Detroit Rival Gripes

Read more:  Detroit Free Press

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